Author Archive

Girsa – Girsa

The word girsa translates to “young girls” in the Gaelic language and is thus a fitting name for this talented group of young ladies from Pearl River, New York.  The eight girls all come from musical families and have played with each other for as long as they can remember and that shows here with a very polished album of some traditional Irish tunes and some not-so traditional ones!

The song that opens the album is one of my favorite songs and definitely a non-traditional Irish song entitled “Immigrant Eyes,” which is co-written by Guy Clark and Roger Murrah.  As I mentioned in previous reviews I am also a fan of country music, so hearing the girls of Girsa cover a Guy Clark song was something that I really enjoyed.

Overall throughout the album I was very impressed with the musicianship of these girls.  For a group of musicians all in their late teens it’s obvious that they all have a love and respect of the music they are covering and have way more skill that I could expound on in print.  The group just really needs to be heard.

The girls just have a knack for taking a song and making it their own, as they did with “Immigrant Eyes.” Another interesting choice was the cover of the Rod Stewart hit “Rhythm Of My Heart” which comes out sounding nothing like the original, but that is a good thing!  No offense to Mr. Stewart of course.

Not only are the girls of Girsa talented musicians, but they also have four strong vocalists in the mix which adds a nice variety to the tracks.  Girsa is truly a group effort and it’s obvious that their personalities and talents mix to form a fantastic end product.

It is going to be fun to watch these girls grow in their musical vision and see where the group goes.  It seems that it’s not a full time gig for any of them so while the sky is the limit nobody really knows what direction the group will take.  I wish them well and look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Cathy Maguire – Portrait

Cathy Maguire - PortraitOne of the things I really enjoy about music is you never know when you’re going to find another artist whose music you truly enjoy.  I was in Ireland last year for a vacation and to see Martina McBride perform.  Martina is a country music singer, so I was curious to see what kind of acts might open the shows in Ireland.  For two of the shows we were blessed with Irish singer-songwriter Cathy Maguire opening the bill.

Cathy’s music is perfectly in my wheelhouse since I enjoy Celtic music as well as American country music.  Cathy has spent some time in Nashville looking for a break in the country industry and I hope she can find a niche here in the States as she is a very talented young lady.

On “Portrait,” her debut album, Cathy co-wrote five of the twelve tracks and overall those are my favorite tracks on the album.  “Portrait” is a beautiful song based on an old black and white photo of a young married couple on their wedding day.  The song is about wondering about their lives and their love story.

“The Song I Want To Sing” is as auto-biographical as a song can be for a singer who wants to do nothing more than reveal the world through their songs.

“Nothing But Blue” is a haunting song that really brings out the beauty of Cathy’s voice.  I see that Don Mescall is listed as one of the writers, so I’m making another mental note to check out more of his material.

Cathy also does a fantastic job on a few cover songs as well with her renditions of the Phil Collins’ song “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” Gram Parsons’ “Return of The Grievous Angel” and the Steven Stills penned tune “Love The One You’re With.”  All three, I have to say, I enjoy more than the originals.

Cathy Maguire is in the unique position of being somewhat between two musical worlds and I hope that trying to conform to either one of them doesn’t make her lose her musical vision.

The two shows we saw of Cathy she performed solo, with just a guitar player to accompany her.  It’s situations like that where an artist can either shine or falter.  Cathy without a doubt shined for those two nights in Ireland.  I have read she’s working on her next album now, so I’ll be anxiously awaiting that release!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Lynn Hilary – Take Me With You

If I had to point to one album that was my obsession for 2009 it would have to be without a doubt this debut effort from Lynn Hilary entitled “Take Me With You.”  According to my account I played this cd from start to finish no less than 30 times since it’s release in April.  Lynn’s beautiful voice and a great recording make for absolute musical magic.

Lynn tackles a lot of different material here, including a few songs that she co-wrote, which makes the album even more impressive.  There’s something I’ve noticed the more I delve into this genre and that is a lot of the artists’ albums tend to cover a lot of the same traditional songs over and over.  Lynn’s album just seems like a breath of fresh air thanks to great song choices.

The album begins with a fantastic ballad Lynn co-wrote with Don Mescall entitled “Melody of Life.”  From there we move on to “Swimming in the Barrow” which is a lighthearted rapid fire song about enjoying the Irish summer.  On “Erin Beo” Lynn breaks your heart just with the sound of her voice.  By this point you’re already thinking “is there anything she can’t sing?”

“Sunset of Gold” is a duet with Mescall with a strong acoustic guitar base that would be equally at home in American folk or country music.  It was my first time hearing Mescall as well, and I’ll certainly be checking out his other material.  I also ran across a version of this song on-line where Lynn tackles all of the vocals without Mescall to great effect as well.

“Annie Watches” is a love song from a slightly different point of view.  It’s about two people in love and how they view themselves and their partner.  It’s sweet and Lynn delivers it beautifully.

“What Makes the Sun Set?” is one of my favorite songs on the album.  It’s a torch song that reminiscent of something Frank Sinatra would have felt at home singing.  Lynn’s soaring voice is the focus of the song and it is simply perfection.

The accapella rendition of “Slán Le Maigh” is breathtaking.  Again, the recording quality is perfect and puts you right there in the room with Lynn.

Lynn is the latest addition to the super-group Celtic Woman and is also featured on their upcoming release “Songs From The Heart” which is due out next week.  While I wish Lynn tons of success with Celtic Woman I’ll be anxiously awaiting her next solo release.  This is one of the rare albums that I couldn’t recommend any higher to anyone who enjoys good music!

Rating: ★★★★★

Deirdre Shannon – Deirdre Shannon

Deirdre Shannon is an Irish soprano that has worked with some of the biggest groups in Celtic music.  She has been a featured soloist with Anúna, Lord of the Dance and Celtic Woman and has a truly remarkable and beautiful voice.

This is her debut solo album and it’s one that finds its way into my cd player over and over again.  From the opening track “I Know My Love” to the final track “New Born” the listener is taken on a journey to another place with Deirdre as your tour guide.

Throughout the disc Deirdre moves effortlessly through different styles of music from classic Irish folk songs to more modern fare like the Rod Stewart song “I Don’t Want To Talk About It.”  The song “One More Day” was featured in the film Veronica Guerin.

Overall Deirdre Shannon’s self-titled disc is a great introduction to a very talented singer.  I can’t wait to hear more from Deirdre in the future!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Welcome to the Web Site!

Hello everyone and welcome to the Celtic Music Review site.  As someone that loves Celtic music I’m always looking to be introduced to new artists and albums.  Unfortunately I have not found a lot of great resources online that fit the bill so I decided to start my own web site where I will be reviewing the music that I love and hopefully getting some input from you, the reader, about artists and music that you love.

I enjoy all different types of Celtic music from traditional to things that would be considered more New Age on to punk music from bands like the Pogues.  I’m looking forward into exploring all different sorts of music, so please offer up any suggestions for artists and albums that you think I might like.

And, yes, I do still say albums and not cds.  I still remember buying vinyl and I’m pretty sure at some point these little plastic cds will go the same route as vinyl so for me every new release is still an album.

Thank you for visiting and I hope to hear from you sometime!